Mirco Mueller

As Joakim Ryan returns home, Sharks reunite with a former top prospect


As Joakim Ryan returns home, Sharks reunite with a former top prospect

When Joakim Ryan suits up in his first NHL road game against the New Jersey Devils Friday night, he’ll do so in a familiar place.

Ryan, a New Jersey-born Swede, played for the Devils’ youth program and nearby Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) in high school. In fact, he’s already played at the Prudential Center, skating in the state championship game with CBA in 2009.

He’s not the only one due for something of a homecoming, as the Sharks may see a familiar face line up on the opposing blueline.

This is the Sharks’ first matchup against New Jersey since trading 2013 first round pick Mirco Mueller ahead of June’s Expansion Draft. Mueller was once considered the future on the San Jose blueline, a smooth-skating defenseman with size to boot.

The Swiss defender never fulfilled his potential, in part because his development was rushed from the start. He made the NHL roster as a rookie in 2014-15, almost by default. Other than Marc-Edouard Vlasic, the only defensemen ahead of him on left side of the depth chart were a far past-his-prime Scott Hannan and regular scratch Matt Irwin. Such was the nature of the Sharks’ “step back” that year.

Mueller finally got regular playing time, albeit in the minors, during his second professional season. By then, he was pushed down the organizational depth chart by the team’s acquisitions of Brenden Dillon and Roman Polak, and the development of Dylan DeMelo. David Schlemko’s signing last summer kept Mueller there for most of 2016-17, but it was Ryan and Tim Heed that ensured Mueller’s NHL future would lie elsewhere. The Swedes surpassed him, and emerged as perhaps the AHL’s best defensive pair in the process.

It’s fitting, then, that Ryan and Heed will be in the lineup tonight, and Mueller may not, as the fresh start he needed hasn’t quite panned out. He’s averaging a career-high 18:44 in ice time, but has been scratched in three of New Jersey’s seven games, including Thursday night’s overtime win in Ottawa.

So Ryan comes home to New Jersey under much happier circumstances than Mueller will reunite with the Sharks. One prodigal son returns, and the other is simply trying to save face.

It’s still early in his Devils tenure, of course, and Mueller may yet emerge as a regular on the New Jersey blueline. His Sharks reunion, though, will serve as a reminder of what once was, what could have been, and what is now San Jose’s future on defense.

Sharks trade Mueller, pick to Devils for two draft picks

Sharks trade Mueller, pick to Devils for two draft picks

For the second time this year, the Sharks have traded away a former first-round pick.
Defenseman Mirco Mueller has been packaged to the New Jersey Devils, along with a 2017 fifth round draft pick, for second and fourth round selections in the 2017 draft the club announced on Saturday.

The Sharks now have eight selections in next weekend’s draft in Chicago, including their own first round pick (19th overall) and New Jersey’s second rounder (49th overall).
Mueller was selected 18th overall by the Sharks in 2013 and played in 54 career games for the club over three seasons (2g, 4a, 17 PIM). He managed to play in just four games in 2016-17, though, and was seemingly passed over by other young blueliners in the organization like Dylan DeMelo, Tim Heed and Joakim Ryan. The Sharks added Czech free agent defenseman Radim Simek and Union College’s Nick DeSimone in recent weeks, bolstering their organizational depth at that position, and also have 2015 second round pick Jeremy Roy.
The deal was made just before Saturday’s noon trade freeze sandwiched round the expansion draft. Mueller, 22, was eligible to be chosen by the Vegas Golden Knights, and was almost certainly not going to be protected by the Sharks. He is a pending restricted free agent.
Compared to Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic on draft day primarily due to his strong skating ability, Mueller did not pan out as hoped. The Sharks shoulder some of the blame as Mueller was rushed to the NHL in 2013-14, likely stunting his growth and messing with his head. 
Compounding the letdown is that the Sharks traded a second round pick to Detroit in the 2013 draft to move up just two places to select Mueller. They used their remaining second round pick to choose Gabryel Boudreau, who is no longer with the organization, partially due to injury.
A fresh start on a rebuilding team could serve Mueller – who has plenty of raw ability, with a sprinkle of grit – well in his career.
That the Sharks managed to get second and fourth round picks for Mueller is commendable, as earlier in the day the Montreal Canadiens managed to get just a third round pick from Buffalo for NHL regular Nathan Beaulieu. The Sharks did not have a second round pick in the 2017 draft before the trade, as it was sent to Toronto as part of the Roman Polak/Nick Spaling trade in 2016.
"We want to thank Mirco for his years of service to the San Jose Sharks and the San Jose Barracuda organizations," general manager Doug Wilson said in a statement. "This will be an excellent opportunity for Mirco to continue his development and with our organization's depth on the blue line, an opportunity for us to acquire assets for the future. We wish him the best."
The Sharks sent 2014 first round pick Nikolay Goldobin (27th overall, 2014) to Vancouver as part of the deal for Jannik Hansen on Feb. 28. They did not have a first round pick at last year’s draft, as that was previously traded to Boston for goalie Martin Jones.

Vlasic to injured reserve; Sharks recall Mueller

Vlasic to injured reserve; Sharks recall Mueller

SAN JOSE - The Sharks placed Marc-Edouard Vlasic on injured reserve and recalled defenseman Mirco Mueller on Monday.

Vlasic, who was hit in the face with a shot on Dec. 30 against Philadelphia and didn’t play on Saturday in Los Angeles, will miss at least Tuesday’s rematch against the Kings and Thursday’s game with the Wild, both at SAP Center. 

He does not require surgery, though, and coach Pete DeBoer said he’s “optimistic after that” that Vlasic could return by Saturday’s home game against Detroit.

Vlasic tweeted out a picture on New Year’s Day, showing the damage that was done by Shayne Gostisbehere’s slap shot that deflected up into his face off of Joel Ward’s stick in the final minute of the Sharks’ 2-0 win.

San Jose is 1-1 this season without Vlasic, beating the Maple Leafs in a shootout on Dec. 13, 3-2, and losing to the Kings on Saturday, 3-2. In 35 games, he has nine points (3g, 6a), a plus-one rating and 31 penalty minutes.

Mueller, who has yet to make his NHL season debut, has no goals and eight assists in 25 games with the AHL Barracuda this season. The former first round pick in 2013 was recalled from Dec. 11-14, but did not play. In 50 career NHL games, Mueller has one goal and three assists for four points and a minus-12 rating.

He could play on Tuesday, as defenseman David Schlemko is day-to-day with an upper body injury. Schlemko did not practice on Monday and is questionable for the Kings game.

“We’ll see tomorrow when Schlemko wakes up,” DeBoer said. “These types of things test the depth of the whole organization. So far we’ve passed those tests, for the most part. I know as a coaching staff we feel real comfortable with the guys we bring in here, like Mirco.”

Mueller, who is himself sporting a beat up face after getting hit by teammate Danny O’Regan’s stick on Saturday in the Barracuda game, has been playing in all situations for coach Roy Sommer’s AHL team.

“I think I’ve been getting a lot of trust from Roy, a lot of ice time, which definitely helps your confidence and your play in general,” Mueller said.

The 21-year-old played in just one NHL game in the calendar year of 2016 – last season’s finale on April 9.

“There’s a lot of guys that are playing here on the back end right now. It’s a pretty stacked D,” he said. “I’ve just got to be patient myself, and play the best I can.”

Mueller skated with Dylan DeMelo on Monday, while Brenden Dillon and Justin Braun were paired together.